For a movie icon, there may be a tendency to consider it a swan song when winning a Lifetime Achievement Award from your acting peers. That seems unlikely from someone as spry and active as octogenarian Dick Van Dyke who received the Screen Actors Guild Lifetime Achievement Award last night. You can especially say that when the advent of the movie musical is having a renewal, even if musical icons of the past are sorely missing in being hired for those projects.
The simple answer to the above is recent musicals (i.e. "Les Miserables") are more operatic in nature, requiring a younger cast list. But what happens if someone decided to do a more old-fashioned movie musical with musical stars of yesteryear such as Julie Andrews, Debbie Reynolds, Barbra Streisand, or Dick Van Dyke? All of them are still active and more than able to entertain, barring Andrews' slightly and tragically damaged voice.
This goes by the assumption that with more movie musicals inevitable, one in the vein of "Mary Poppins" or "The Sound of Music" could potentially take off again on the big screen. With familiar names of yesteryear attached to something similar, there shouldn't be any theoretical doubt of how successful it could be. The only question is in whether the above icons would ever want to do it when the musicals they've already done are nearly insurmountable.
At least one thing is certain: Seeing Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke reunite in a musical would be a major event. It doesn't have to be a sequel to "Mary Poppins", even if a follow-up on Bert and Mary would have more possibilities than you might think. Combining them in any musical with a younger cast would be the compromise needed to make it a studio suit-pleasing, marketable exercise.
Most of all, allowing Dick Van Dyke and Andrews to do the above would provide a musical bookend to give full circle to their careers. The last movie acting credit for Van Dyke was "A Night at the Museum" (barring his excised scenes from its sequel). Andrews' more recent credits involve mostly animated voice work rather than utilizing her musical stage talents.
And lest anyone think an older cast isn't marketable, let's not forget that there's an untapped market for legendary stars from baby boomers and older who grew up with said icons. The acknowledgement of that usually goes silent from studios, despite older action stars recently carving a new movie niche. Someone has to be brave and utilize the same in the movie musical.
Of course, this means going back to the basics of the musical and not worrying about operatic singing. In the case of Dick Van Dyke, it might mean going back to utilizing tap dancing in a musical, along with a more naturalized form of singing already revitalized in "Les Miserables." It only has to be more careful in the logical transition of musical numbers when you consider the traditional musical is a combination of acting and music.
Once the above renaissance happens, Dick Van Dyke can end up being nominated for competitive awards again. It's also a reminder to future, overly active Lifetime Award Achievement winners that they should remind audiences their careers aren't necessarily going into sunset.